Wet vs Dry: The Complexities of Female Lubrication

[ 0 ] January 8, 2013 |

Many if not most women are quite sensitive about their bodies, and particularly their sexual organs. Lubrication is one topic that women often have questions and concerns about.

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For example, in my sex therapy practice, some women feel that they take too long to lubricate. Some believe they don’t lubricate enough. Others say they lubricate too much. Sometimes women will say that they lubricate at first, but as their sex play continues, the lubrication seems to get absorbed and dryness can occur. Oftentimes, women are too embarrassed to bring up questions about lubrication with their doctors, so they may remain concerned and confused for years on end. However, talking with your doctor about this or any sexual concern is not only a very appropriate thing to do, but also critical to good self-care. While I can review with you some of the more common issues that impact lubrication, it is imperative that you seek appropriate medical advice rather than relying on this or any other impersonal information. Lubrication is an important issue for women, as lack of lubrication is the most common cause of sexual pain. So it is not a concern to be ignored.

First let me say that it is very common for women to believe they are not lubricating adequately when in fact their body is functioning normally. Women do not have the advantage that men do of knowing when their bodies are aroused. As a result, women often rely on their brains and hearts to inform them. Surprisingly enough, women’s bodies have been shown to respond to sexual stimuli even if their minds and hearts aren’t on board! For example, a woman may watch a porn flick with her partner and be relatively unmoved. However, it is likely that her body responded to the sexual stimuli in the porn video anyway. This phenomenon is more common in pre-menopausal women than women who are thru the menopausal transition, but it is an interesting aspect of female sexuality nonetheless. You know that I have stressed before how powerful an impact our unconscious mind has on our sexual feelings and behavior. This is a great example of how we can have a physical reaction without our conscious mind being aware.

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Secondly, I want to say that so many women compare their sexual responses to that of their partner’s. If their sexual partner is male, it is likely that he requires less time to become aroused – and this is especially true of younger men. So if a woman requires 30 minutes of foreplay to truly feel aroused, and her partner is ready to make love after five minutes of sex play, she might feel self-conscious for needing more. Please rest assured that these sex differences are normal. If this is the case for you, have your partner read this article so you both can be on the same wave length about this issue.

Now, if you are sure you are getting enough foreplay and you still aren’t lubricating adequately, then my next question is, are you enjoying your foreplay? Does your sex play turn you on? If not, think about how you can improve it. Maybe up the ante with some role play, or new sex toys, or … WOW the list is endless! Getting stuck in sexual ruts can make foreplay much less exciting over time, so be sure to switch things up on occasion.

Now if you feel you’ve covered all the above, then a variety of emotional and/or biological issues may be playing a role in your bodies sexual responses. From an emotional perspective, are you having a hard time concentrating? If your mind is focused elsewhere, then it’s not easy to become aroused. Are you feeling comfortable, intimate, and safe with your partner? If not, it’s hard to allow your body to open and receive pleasure. Is guilt or shame a factor? Sometimes we carry toxic emotions about sexuality that can interfere with our body’s response. Or are you so worried about performing adequately that your performance anxiety is inhibiting you? Finally, stress can impact our body in a variety of ways, sexuality being one of them. These are some examples of emotional issues that can impede your body’s lubrication response.

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Now let’s consider some potential biological factors. Alcohol is a very common lubrication killer. One cocktail may help loosen you up, but remember that alcohol ultimately dehydrates the body. And it can make it more challenging for you to feel sensation, including sensation in the pelvis. Antihistamines and anti-depressants can make lubrication more challenging, as can anti-anxiety medication. Think about what you are putting into your body that can be impacting your sexual response. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor about possible sexual side effects to any medications you are taking.

Finally, another potential player in the lubrication conundrum is your menstrual cycle. Your lubrication may vary depending on where you are in your monthly cycle. And if you are over 35, peri-menopause may well be impacting your body’s lubrication response. As estrogen levels naturally decline with age, so does the lubrication response for many women. This is among the most common sexual complaints that occur with menopause. But please don’t despair; these issues can often be counteracted safely with localized estrogen, so please talk with your doctor about your options.

For the majority of lubrication troubles, store-bought lubrication can help tremendously. But this can be an article all to itself, as there are so so many differences among the varieties of over-the counter lubrication available. Be careful because some have added ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin. And be aware that oil-based lubricants can dissolve condoms! Most women have to experiment with a wide variety of products before they find what they like. Consider buying a sampler pack so that you can see what works best with your body. There are organic lubricants available at natural food stores, and some women like to use natural oils from their kitchen. You may want to talk to your doctor about what might be a better product for you.

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Dr. Marianne Brandon

In sum, your sexual responses can vary depending on how you are feeling in your physical and emotional life, and what’s happening in your romantic relationship. Variability in sexual response is natural. Be gentle with your expectations about your body. Focus your attention on enhancing the physical and emotional pleasure inherent in your experience rather than trying to obtain specific goals such as lubrication or orgasm. But as always, please see your doctor to be sure that you are getting the help that you need.

Follow Dr. Marianne Brandon on Twitter @DrBrandon and Facebook to learn more, or comment, and she will continue this very important conversation. Until then, happy reading!

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Category: Intimacy, Relationships

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About Dr. Marianne Brandon: Dr. Marianne Brandon is a clinical psychologist and Diplomat in sex therapy through AASECT. Dr. Brandon is Director of Wellminds Wellbodies LLC in Annapolis, Maryland. She is author of Monogamy: The Untold Story and co-author [...]
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